Friday, April 08, 2011

finishing the table

I recently decided to sand my old set of coffee table/ end table that Kurto and I first got when we were married. Ten years ago! They are pottery barn tables and while they have served us well they have definitely seen better days. I love their shape and how they are sturdy and solid but their color has always been a bit orange to my liking. We got them on clearance, floor models and cheap and back then I wasn't into stain, polyurethane, and the difference between dark walnut or deep maple. I was dreamy for Kurto and things like coffee tables were not on my top ten. I'd like to still think I am dreamy for Kurto but that has nothing to do with my construction and painting obsession as of late. So here is what I did. Total project took about a week between coats, letting things set, dry, air out, not get sick on fumes etc.

(I didn't take a before pic. The orange wood color shows the original. The lighter color is me having sanded two planks of the table)
I sanded this one with an electric sander but the other side table I did by hand. Both worked out well. The positive obviously of the electric sander is time saved and being able to get deep into the wood to remove water rings, permanent marker, or modge podge perhaps. The down side to an electric sander is not having as much control and it is harder to go in the direction of the wood as accurately which makes a huge difference. I think with a dark stain the electric sander is the way to go. A lighter stain would show the marks of the electric sander and my choice would go back to hand sanding.

Here you can see the tables water marks and scratches...

These are the two products I used to do my table. Minwax "dark walnut". The polycrylic I used was water based and I did three coats!



1. Sand. I used 60 grit sand paper. Very rough. The coffee table looked pretty but felt like a nail file after this step.
2. Sand again. I used 220 for this step. The coffee table began to get smooth. I did this step by electric sander as well.
3. Stain. I did one light coat of stain. I let it sit for about 6 hrs.
4. Sand. Yes this is the strange step. When you stain wood it naturally brings up the grain. I used the lightest sand paper that I could and did a slight buffer/sand job by hand going the way of the grain. This step might make you panic that you are ruining your table and stain but it is the most important step I think. If you don't your table or project tends to be a bit gritty even though you've sanded so much. I think smooth is nice so I do this step.
5. Stain. This time I put a ton of stain on using a foam rubber brush. I thin buffed it through going in long motions the way of the grain. I wanted it to be really dark but because of this it took forever to dry. I might have next time put two lighter coats.
6. Poly. I used the water based poly and really love how this finishes and protects the table. I wanted to have a kid friendly, put my coffee cup and feet up on the coffee table effect. So I did three coats of this. I put on a coat each afternoon and left the garage open half way overnight to let it dry and air out without fumes around the house or kids.


I am about 90 percent happy with this table. It looks 100 percent better than it did but it is blotchy in a few spots? I'm thinking that had I don't three coats of thin stain rather than two heavy it would have made this better. It is only slightly noticeable to me because I tend to stare at my coffee table and think about such things as sand paper numbers. Anyone else have any tips as to using an electric sander vs. hand sanding?

4 comments:

Vanessa said...

AH!!! I love it!!!

grammyjan said...

I wish you were here with me to do some of the projects that need doing. You are so amazingly talented!!!

Jocelynalice said...

I like it. You know, I had to say as I starting reading this i got a little scared cause i have a little bit of emotional attachment to this table. but i am rest assured. it looks great!

Christina said...

The table has been around for so long! i love the new look!